students discard items in the classroom without thinking about what
kinds of materials they are throwing away. This activity increases
students' awareness of the number and kinds of materials they discard.
It also encourages them to think about taking action by reusing and
recycling some of these items.
Let students work in groups of twos or threes. Have each group save
materials they would ordinarily thrown away. They can use previously
discarded classroom items, such as papers, and select clean, safe items.
Have each group pick ten trash items at random. Lead a
discussion on the kinds of materials the students have selected. Paper
and plastic items will be common, but Styrofoam, wood, cloth, metal,
and items made of two or more materials, paper and plastic packaging
for pencils, for example, may also be found.
Distribute a copy of the Graphing Trash Material Activity Sheet to each group.
Graphing Trash Material Activity Sheet
Read the title and captions. Help students decide on, and write
names for, the remaining categories on the graph. You might want to title one of these categories as "Other."
Have the students predict how many items will be
in each category. Students can record their predictions on the sheet.
Help students count their trash materials and fill in the
appropriate number of spaces for each category. Have each group report
its results to another group and compare their findings.
As they work, circulate and see what kinds of things they are discussing. Prompt them as necessary to notice
categories with no items, categories with equal numbers of items, and so on.
Lay the graphs on the floor or on a table. Have students gather
around them as you or a group member finish counting the number of
items in each category. Compare the totals with the predictions.
Discuss some of the trash items that could be
reused or recycled. Let each group draw pictures on
the activity sheet of items that could be reused or recycled.
Have a representative of each group show and tell what the group has
decided. Use some of the students' ideas for reusing and recycling
materials, if possible.
- Shaw, Jean M. and Firkins, John. September, 1993. The Arithmetic Teacher. p 27-40.